Free Preview: No Budget DIY Tools


Tabletop Photography Fundamentals


Lesson Info

Free Preview: No Budget DIY Tools

What I want to go over first is the gear that we can purchase in places like hardware store or an art supply store or maybe you know, even things you might have around your house in the garage or something like that can really help kind of start tio buildout a lighting setup and conceptualize what it might be like to use a better on a more advanced lighting technique and set up so I'm also going to show you that we built these yesterday these air identical to the ones that I have in my studio that I've built and this is a basically a light diffusion panel you saw us use a little bit in the last augmented daylight second setup and this is truly the I y there is nothing in here that you can't buy at the hardware store this is ah paint drop cloth and we've tripled it so it gives us a pretty clean thing there's the material that we would use maybe a little bit maur this is also the material that I use in my studio this isn't a deal the I y application, but this would fit in this frame they...

use it if you look above you, even the lighting in the studio is covered with this stuff and this is a really nice diffusion material it's plastic the little expensive easy by by the role but luckily a lot of places will sell it by the yard, which is how I buy it I don't buy it by the role and it's so you can see I, uh I posted a picture online the other day, but with my assistant holding this up and you can see through it a little bit it's kind of funny and he looked, it looked in the way I photographed me looked like e t standing behind it, but this is, you know, and you could see that we've gotten very close, right? We've gotten very close between what this the fusion does and these and these paint drop cloth I'm also going to show you how to assemble one of these really quickly waken see that you know, once you understand just the basics, then you khun you know, build one of these toe like fit your window exactly that's what I did, I fit an entire window two windows in my studio with these that I make and it's remarkable of how different the light looks when I defused the entire window versus just a portion of the tabletop because the ambient light that is produced when a when a really harsh sunlight or or even some of the lights that were going to use today come through here because constance, you know, conceptual, you need to understand that light is has, you know shape, right? So if it's coming through a window it's shaped like this if it's coming through really broad window it's shaped really widely so when you looking for a wide you know kind of bathing in light where you kind of have a big wides you know forty five degrees or maybe even wider of light coming through it's softer it's defused it comes through instead of this big, harsh spotlight coming in and and just hitting and making all kinds of shadows and making all kinds of flares a soft diffused light is your best friend when you doing any type of tabletop photography and then what you could do is you can back off of it if you really want to use a shadow as in as in effect and you want it to look that way harsh then you can kind of back off a little bit and make your light a little bit harder but starting with soft, even diffused light is going to really help you sew the pieces of this that and we have them in bigger sizes here too this is pretty much the same size is my window this one right here this is pretty much almost an identical size to the one I put inside my my big window in my studio so this is a really nice size um and then we have the pieces and parts of this already pre cut so I could show you just basically how fast and easy it is to put something like hands together. So we got two shorties and two longer ones, so this is just one by two lumber that you could buy in any any hardware a lumber yard um it's pretty rigid and then we have four corner brackets again, you could buy him anywhere they're already pre drilled, so that helps you know they're not gonna hurt yourself tools that I'm going to use our some some wood screws like she rocks cruise and you're like, screw gun and, uh, you know, a commercial staple gun and that's all so, you know, in a in a in a matter of a couple of minutes, we'll put this together and and we'll have our fourth diffusion panel to work with because, you know, at home I always wear my my woollen vest and my when I'm working in the garage always somebody timing me, sure I can. I can I think I can walk into a gun a little bit fitting this directly into your window what would be the advantage of doing this versus just like having a sheer curtain or layers of curtain? Well, I think it's diffusion material that you really that you really like and I think that sometimes if you really like the light coming through your curtain and you can get a nice soft phil through that, then sure, why not? I mean, I have ah big china silk that I use and I use that with strobes for food and it's a really big like to stop finest silk that aiken push a light through that gives me a really nice soft light, so it doesn't have to be diffusion material like I'm using it could be anything that you like the light, the way it comes through and if it works for you, then I think that it's absolutely up to you. I don't think there's any hard and fast rule here, but I do think that this is an option because this is something that could be permanent, but you can take it and put it somewhere when you don't want to use it and it also is the thing you can't do with while john does that I'll show you the thing I like to do is when I have light let's say my light sources, john because you know he's like this bright and warm so normally I put it like this in the window, but there are times when the from the angle of the sun and the way I wanted to fuse the light, I'll tilt it like this, and as I tilt it, the light changes and then I'll anchor it. I'll put a something here to hold it, or I'll put some tape on it and tape it to the wall or bungee cord or something. But the idea is that that's what gives me flexibility that's different than just using a curtain? So that's that's a mean that's a mean thing in how we do that way already free way pre cut some of this plastic sheeting, and then we'll attach this and I'll show you the finishing touches. So you saying anybody diffusion paper that you had was that from a photo shop? I think that that probably came from a photo shop, but you could also buy a plastics shop that's so, like, you know where these lexie's plexus that we use, those come from a plastic shop as well, and that you can also buy that stuff on every big city has a commercial plastic shop. I go to the london down in chinatown in new york city, and I know exactly which one I like and the thickness some of them, depending on how thick they are that's, how much the light will be knocked down, then you know, if you if you shot a bare bulb and put it on your meter and then you did a diffusion the market and stops so if it's a third of a stop or to stop or whatever that's that's how they determine how much the light gets diffuse through a particular panel or a particular piece of material so sometimes photographer so the one we're going to build now I'm goingto on lee put two sheets in so we can see the difference between that one and this one and if we and the thing is with this is if we don't like it, which is that another piece? So it does offer a flexibility that maybe the other diffusion paper doesn't because that one's already pretty pretty thick if you put that one on it might might knock down you're like two months, but that stuff the stuff that way have on this and stuck it by the photo store when you get a really, really hard bright light coming through that it diffuses it really nicely really clean even nice and andrew another question from the question from pam hawking's regarding the diffusion material we live cast any kind of a color say it again will it cast a color? No not necessarily know the one like that stuff and even this I don't think it would I think any time you get things that have color near your table your clothing that's you probably more at risk of casting with clothing I found that my ladder it was yellow on I I didn't realize I was like, where is that yellow cast coming from? And it was my my big yellow ladder that I stand on when I go in, adjust the camera and I didn't move it and eventually, you know, I just I wrap the the ladder when I leave it in the set, I wrap it in white cards so you can't see the yellow anymore, but it's, you know, you'd be surprised how sensitive it is when you do that, okay, so we made the frame thanks to john and we have now this side and we'll go to the opposite side of where all would get thes already kind of pre cut or you can, you know, just cut him approximately, which is kind of what we did here and pull it, get one side together, pull it tight and then we'll anchor it on this side, make sure it doesn't have too many kind of ridges in it. So, andrew, while you're doing that, I just wanna let you know I'm really, really excited that we're making more noise in here than the drumming classes I was this is my rendition of rage against the machine with a staple gun, okay, so same thing on this side and it helps to have somebody helping you to pull it a little tighter, yeah I got the one on and we could take a look at what that looks like and how and that's okay I would like it a little bit heavier than that so we're gonna put one more piece and we'll see what we get compared to the ones who've already built so same same process one corner smooth out the bumps make lots of noise any questions since we're on the y that long used earlier the blue light is that hardware photo lightly used thing is from a hardware store with blue booth blue balled with something up I knew it we ran out way yeah we got I think okay well here's the point that's pretty much finished okay what we would do next to make it nice and neat is cover the edges and gaffer's tape white of course so that we're not casting black on anything I would trim these hedges down with the scissors which we can do that's ok I can do it and talk um you could do it but you know when you build things something like this you know there's a little measure of satisfaction with the whole d I y thing right especially when you could make something that is justice functional as something that you could by now I have all sorts of diffusion materials in my studio I have flags and wrote the things called road rags that come on frames and big circle discs and all kinds of stuff but my favorite thing is that because I made it myself and it fits my window perfectly and it diffuses the light the way I like it and it was custom to my needs my desire to make light this way and I think that in photography you'll find the more photographers you meet the more you find a lot of us are di wires I have my friend who has been modifying flash heads all different ways forever he screws holds enemy makes brackets form, he puts him on sticks, he does all kinds of crazy stuff with them because this is the stuff that he wanted to be something that isn't commercially available he wanted to be this way and he makes it himself now he should probably patent it and sell it, but you know, most photographers are great business people, so you tuning in to watch two guys play with tape bulb was purchased a two photo store at a little short our favorite seattle photo store you love that love that photo store and I think one of my favorite things about that particular photo store is the fact that we have the ability to rent equipment from them can you talk? We'll talk a little bit about that we are here because I think that has a certain at a certain point in this process and we're we're learning and what we're doing the equipment becomes a little bit inaccessible financially unless you are a working professional making a lot of money and you have your own studio to store this stuff that doesn't mean you can't use it because rental gear once you've established yourself that you're using camera in a professional way you can get photo insurance once you have photo insurance you can rent equipment from most professional camera shops at a reasonable price and if you're let's say your somebody who's making product and you set one day a month that you're going to shoot on that one day you rent here for a day or two you shoot everything you need to shoot with professional year then you send it back you just did what you needed to do at a fraction of the cost use professional equipment that you understand how to use and everybody's happy because ninety percent of the professionals who shoot with the kind of equipment that I'm going to show you over the next few days I don't own it they don't because it's too expensive to own and the technology changes so rapidly that toe own really really expensive lighting equipment it's counterproductive because unless you're using it every day to earn money with it won't pay for itself not right away unless this one particular piece of equipment that you is into disposable for you and you use it all the time I would suggest renting I have us three basic lighting setups in my studio. Uh, one was given to me. One is a reasonable portable strobe set up, and one is an expensive kind of indispensable piece of equipment that I use a lot. So I think that, you know, that was my my so if you take all of this stuff together, I didn't waste any money on things that I'm not going to use all the time. So that's it's an important it's an important way to go about doing your business to is just being mindful that just because you know how to use something doesn't mean you need to own it. So that was a really long answer to your question, no, but a very good one, okay? So we're getting to the point here where this is pretty much done, and I like the way it looks, and now we have four diffusion panels that we're going to play with throughout the next a few days, and we'll use these and we're going to look at this material would a critical eye because this is a real d I y city set set up. If I'm not happy with this material, we'll swap it out and put the other stuff in there and see how we feel about that, but this is a good way to test I mean this. I mean, these panels maybe what? Maybe they cost us three, five dollars each to build maybe five bucks each to build so that's really good use of your budget to make some pretty cool stuff, so you think we're good with that one? Yeah, so there it is assembled, ready to use and really helpful. Okay, the next d I y thing kind of garage fixed her up kind of thing is something I learned about on the internet. This is thies air stick in a bucket way built them for this size because we're going to use them on the table top because this is a tabletop photography class, but basically what a stick in a bucket becomes very easily is a light stand that you can clamp stuff onto for exactly so now you have really inexpensive same material one by two empty paint cans a little bit of concrete and you can buy a five pound bag of concrete and you and by like empty paint cans or save them or whatever and you can make these all different sizes I've seen him a small is this with tiny little paint cans. I've seen them as big as you know big five gallon buckets with a two by four in them or even this material too because it's easy to clamp on to but this is again really inexpensive it does the job and I think at the end of the day it doesn't do every job you needed to do but it definitely when you're working alone and you need extra set of hands to hold a board or clamp on a light or something something like this is really really helpful so I think that you know you khun send your teenager into the garage and with the saw and what you know so on a bucket of concrete and say don't come back until you make five of the or you're not going to go on twitter tonight so he's a really good and we'll probably use these now in our in our d I y set up again another household item that has multiple purposes and you'll see them in every single photo studio in the country our clamps big ones little ones little tiny could be ones anything that can hold stuff I use these in weird ways sometimes tio toe hold uh spoons when I'm doing food photography I'll build a little rig put a spoon I think it's sort of like sort of like this right standard and put the spoon out this way and then I'll get really close and it looks like somebody's stealing food okay so that's like a robo hand model yes exactly alright the other thing that we showed you before which are also with the exception of these god that's terrible sound okay these light bulbs are I wouldn't say this is going to be true to our d I y because this is a photo bulb that people will use specifically for photography um but that doesn't mean that there is not another solution to this, so this is ahh clamp housing and it's very, very similar teo a riel like kind of impact what we call an impact housing that's the brand or whatever but you know it's basically a light fixture with this kind of a bell that makes a spotlight and has these clamps and it's really good because you can clamp it on to things like this not ideal, but it does the job right? So it doesn't have any opportunity to filter them or and it doesn't sometimes these have ah gradation where you khun dim them or change the light in them, but the idea is that this is a functional use off something that you can buy relatively inexpensively to create a lighting setup again, conceptually, this is lighting this doesn't look like photo equipment but is lighting so if we use two of these and we put clear household bulbs in them, which john has, which will not be commercially available much longer, but I'm kind of running the whole set but by doing that, but this is truly of the d I y where we're putting all basically everything we're using so far his household item. We haven't used anything that had to be bought a photo story yet. So because now we have this bare bulb that's going to shine very bright. But we're going to use our diffusion panels to knock the light down. So these air to kind of too hot to put gel or anything in front of the light and probably melted. So that's. Why, with the panel, we can set the panel in front of one of this. One of these, like leaning against the table, set the panel up, and we're going to be able to defuse the light nicely that way.

Class Description

You don’t need a studio to take professional-grade product and still life photographs! All you need is a simple tabletop lighting setup. In this course, award-winning food photographer Andrew Scrivani will show you how to create and tailor your own table top lighting setup — on any budget. Whether you’re a beginning photographer looking to master lighting or a professional photographer eager to expand your services, this course will give you a candid, comprehensive playbook for tabletop lighting.

Tabletop photography transforms a single surface into a small-scale studio. Andrew, a regular contributor to The New York Times, will show you how to create and then optimize your lighting setup for your needs — using everything from the latest gear to household items. Andrew will cover metering and bounce cards, working with strobes and soft boxes, LED lighting, and tips for shooting glassware and other tricky products.

By the end of this course, you will know how to set up and adjust your very own tabletop studio — and how to use that small-scale studio to expand your services, improve your photography, and market your business.


a Creativelive Student

I was pleased to see real life situations and set ups, their work arounds and the little fiddly things all commercial/product photographers go through to produce a viable shot. Unlike some of the other reviews, the "oops, it didn't work, let's try this instead" was totally real world and believable. So many times on other teaching venues, the shot is already set up and perfected before the instruction begins. It was extremely helpful to watch the processes that were involved in producing the correct captures. I was impressed with the humor and teaching style as well, especially for the time constraints in a classroom setting. The student set-ups and critiques were valuable and spot on without being negative in any way. All-in-all this was one of the best classes I've viewed at Creative Live. I just wish I could have had three more days and to have been there in person for the one-on-one instruction.

Aly Cupcakezz

I really liked how things were experimented. Instead of just giving do x, y, z. It shows you how to correct issues as they come up, and how to enhance your photography This gives you a guided idea of all the things you can play with to perfect your product photography image. You really learn how to fix the image problems as they appear in front of you. A very realistic way to create your own personal lighting setup for your product photos for your own studio space. Excellent fundamentals class for new photographers or small businesses attempting to do their own product photography. Thank you!

Sunil Sinha

very nice table top